Dec 29, 2012

Lolita Blog Carnival: Five Books Every (Gothic) Lolita Should Read

Hello dear readers! It's been a while since I've had the time to participate in a Lolita Blog Carnival theme, but as a literary sort of gal I feel obliged to take this one on. My reading list is pretty specific to those who enjoy spooky kind of stories. So without further ado....

Five Books Every Gothic Lolita Should Read

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Image from the 2011 film version of Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is the quintesential gothic romance, full of wandering in misty moores, unrequited love, madness, and vivid descriptions of soot-blackened Yorkshire kitchens and stone bedchambers. Putting aside its canonnical status in gothic literature, its also one of my favorite novels. Though it may seem heavy, I actually read this book in a night: I just couldn't put it down.  If you don't know the story, just give it a quick wiki search and do your homework. 

+The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Frank W. Benson - "Artist's Daughters in Dining Room" 1906
The Awakening is a tale of a woman unsatisfied with her position as a wife, mother, and socialite in Victorian Louisiana, and her struggle to find her place as an individual in high-pressure upper-crust Victorian society. During the course of the novel, the protagonist boldly leaves her family and attempts to forge a life for herself, but faces the overwhelming adversity of society at large. Kate Chopin writes beautifully and The Awakening is a literary gem for this reason alone, but I feel this novel is of the utmost importance to modern women, and to lolita and neo-romantic readers because it reminds us never to sacrifice our personhood for what society believes is the "right" way to live. We are reminded how far women have come, and how far we have yet to go. It also nudges us a little to not romanticize Victoriana toooo much ;). 

+A Good Man is Hard to Find short story anthology by Flannery O'Conner
Flannery O’Connor’s desk and typewriter in her bedroom at her farm near Midgeville, Georgia.
Photo courtesy of New York Times. 
Flannery O'Connor is probably my favorite writer of all time. Unfortunately, this queen of the Southern Gothic passed at a young age, and her body of work is quite slim as a result. None the less, she produced one of the best short story anthologies of American literature. A Good Man is Hard to Find is full of the grotesqueries hidden beneath the mundane American existence, and features stories about many deliciously gothic bits such as serial killers, bible salesmen, spinsters, and wandering hobos. Flannery O'Conner wrote during the 50's-60's, so there are all kinds of kitschy rural mid-century details if you're into that sort of thing. 

+House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson is another big name in American Gothic literature. Whereas Flannery O'Connor's work focuses more on absurd realities, Jackson's writing often has more of a supernatural or dystopic slant. Many of her stories are popular titles in this kind of genre, and I know that her novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a perrenial hit with the Tumblr/indieblogger crowd (I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read it yet!), but I have chosen House on Haunted Hill for this list because it really is the essential American ghost story, and who doesn't love a good ghost story? Like pretty much every other story on this list, House on Haunted Hill also deals a lot with a woman's perspective, and her status in society. Also the movie is badass (the Vincent Price version, not the remake).

+A Great and Terrible Beauty (and sequels) by Libba Bray
I know the cover makes it look like a cheesy romance novel. I promise you, it is not. The picture on the left is actress Romola Garai, the choice casting by a fan of one of the characters in the book, Felicity Worthington. I agree!
Unlike the rest of the novels on my list, A Great and Terrible Beauty is a contemporary novel, written by YA author Libba Bray. The story is set in a mysterious girls' school in Victorian England. Although at its core, this book is a fantasy novel, it is so  well researched and well written that it is actually quite immersive and feels very historic. The fantasy/adventure elements make this book fun to read, while the period detail makes one want to don her finest bonnets and go on some sort of gas-lit adventure.

I love each and every one of these books dearly! Maybe some of them are not really explicitly lolita, but each has a mood or theme that would appeal to most classic and gothic lolitas, as well as others interested in 19th century and 20th century history and life.

Check out these blogs that participated in this week's theme:

Dec 25, 2012

Meet Up Report: Secret Winter Party at the Fairytale Boutique

Happy Holidays from Carnivale Salt!!

A week or so ago, I attended my first lolita meetup in Los Angeles. LA's Little Tokyo district is home to an adorable lolita shop called the Fairytale Boutique. In addition to selling barely-used consignment brand items and unique pieces by local designers, Fairytale Boutique is also known for hosting some of the most popular events in the Southern California lolita community! I was really bummed that I was still in the midwest for the Automatic Honey Halloween release party. When Fairytale Boutique announced that they would be hosting a holiday event, I could not wait for the chance to get to participate in one of these events!

So many lolitas! Everyone had a really festive time. There was a cosplay event going on at the shop next door so there were also several visitors in costumes. I love the Holiday Cami in the background of this shot!

Hostess Miki taking gifts for the White Elephant exchange.
She did a wonderful job organizing the event!! I loved her festive caplet.
During the event, guests who had RSVP'd for party programming played a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors against the hostess for prizes. I have heard in the past that this style of rock-paper-scissors is a popular game at brand events in Japan, for lolita and other kinds of brands as well. I didn't win any prizes, but I came really close in one round! Following the game, we moved on to an extremely lively White Elephant gift exchange.

The Christmas Tree before all of the White Elephant gifts were added.....
The tree after all of the gifts were added! It was quite an impressive sight. I had my eye on the parchment
wrapped gift but what I ended up with turned out to be much better. 
Instead of just matching your assigned number to the corresponding gift as I had assumed, we opened gifts one at a time in the group, and everyone could choose whichever present in the pile they wanted. Everyone cheered or booed as guests opened their gifts, and stealing gifts was allowed and encouraged! I had number 37, almost last, so I was lucky to have my pick of almost all the gifts. I felt a little guilty for stealing the Swimmer Tshirt I ended up with from another girl, but she got to steal another gift she wanted even more as a result anyway. At the beginning of the game, everyone felt bad stealing presents, but by the end, it was madness!

I brought home this extra cute Swimmer ice cream tshirt. The screen print is flocky and its black and grey color scheme works great with my casual wardrobe. I've been wearing it with acid-washed jeans, combat boots, my graffiti stud belt, and the Kidsyoyo berret I wore to the event. The gift I brought for the exchange was a box of
Tazo blueberry white tea, a black BABY headbow, a ring from MONOMANIA,
and a sterling silver teapot Christmas ornament, all in a collectable MONOMANIA giftbag.  
I had a wonderful time, and eventually did open up and meet some new friends, but I must admit that I was terribly nervous and shy most of the event :(. Large meet ups are always a little intimidating for me, but meeting all new people at an event like that can be downright terrifying!

All these girls were super nice! The girl I met with the red hair standing to the right of me was actually the one who won my gift! I was so happy she loves tea and wears gothic and classic, so it was the perfect gift for her. I wore my new AP Moon Night Theater miniskirt, with harlequin tights, black blazer and BABY blouse, topped off with my KIDSYOYO beret. Sweeter than my usual fare, but I wanted to be festive!
In spite of my shyness though, it was a great introduction to the SoCal Community, and I really hope I can get to know my local lolitas better soon! Did your community do anything fun for the holidays?

Dec 13, 2012

Carnivale Salt does Hollywood!!!

Hello dear readers!! Carnivale Salt is back after an eventful hiatus moving across the United States! As all things that are kind of done on the fly, moving turned out to be a much more complicated process than it should have been and it really turned out to be quite the adventure. None of it was really on topic with the things I talk about on this blog, but maybe I'll tell you about it sometime :). After about three weeks of traveling, we finally are settled in our new (beautiful) home in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles! I've lived in the midwest most of my life, so being here with so many fruit trees and palms and beautiful people feels quite idyllic. Things to watch for on the blog!!

+Decorating and domestic features
+Los Angeles city guides
+Coverage of SoCal Gothic and Lolita fashion community events
+ Recipes

On my list of things to do, find this awesome beach from The Craft. Yes, everything here does remind me of this movie....

Nov 15, 2012

Some recent purchases....

Hello dear readers! I apologize for my blog neglect, I have been very busy preparing for my upcoming move to California. Unfortunately, things haven't been going as smoothly as we'd hoped so the process has been more stressful than I anticipated. Even though we're experiencing a bit of a delay, I'm still super excited, and am holding my head up high with thoughts of what waits for us there!

Along those lines, I've purchased a few new items for my Lolita wardrobe that I can look forward to once I arrive!

The first piece is something I've been trying to get my hands on since it was infamously released in Hot Topic years ago.... The Orchid Jumperskirt! I remember when I was still a beginning Lolita, and it was still difficult to get clothes overseas, this dress, sold easily at your local mall, took the western community by storm. I remember looking all over for this dress, but none of my local Hot Topics had it. Well, almost 7 years later, it's finally mine!

The second purchase I made was the mini-skirt release of Angelic Pretty's Moon Night Theater. At first I thought I didn't like this print but a few of my friends have the Jumperskirt in the pink colorway, and I must admit that it's grown on me quite a bit. I've always liked pleated skirts and I've been itching for one of AP's more casual mini's for a while. Not too cutesy, but more playful than my usual fare, I'm excited to wear this with a black blazer or turtleneck and beret for gothy otome looks ~<3

The third and most dramatic piece, is Juliette et Justine's recent release "La Bibliotheque". I thought I had sworn off buying new brand at new brand prices, but this dress swept me away. Since I succeeded in selling most of the things I wanted to get rid of for moving, I allowed myself to splurge a little on this incredible piece! The design is so unique for a Lolita garment. I love flounce sleeves and find them to be very flattering on me, and I'm super psyched to see then used in Lolita. The handkerchief detail is perfect executed in this print, emphasizing the lines of the books. It's colorful yet still has that antique gothic feeling that I love!

None of these items have arrived yet, so I'm afraid these images are either borrowed from the seller or from Google. I'm so excited to receive my new items in my new home!

Have you made any recent purchases you're super excited about? Do you have any rituals when you move into a new home? Thanks for reading!

Oct 26, 2012

My Style Outside of The FRILLS

This week's prompt for the Lolita Blog Carnival is to talk about your personal style outside of lolita fashion. Since Carnivale Salt is not strictly a lolita blog, you've heard me discuss many different styles, ranging from mori kei to western goth. While I am very interested in these fashions, and take a lot of inspiration from them, my daily style rarely conforms to just one. I'd like to describe my style as antique avant gothic, but the truth is that I'm not really sure how to describe my look. Even though I think I have a pretty interesting style, I'm not the most photogenic of people, and I tend to only take outfit shots if its a special occasion. The following is a smörgåsbord of photos from the past year so you can decide for yourself! From most recent:

Most recent and current hair and glasses combo... This look consisted of a mid-length long sleeved sweater dress and long pearls. Somewhere between Edward Gorey and Edith Head. Channeling 30's spinsters. September 2012

Another recent look from shortly before I cut my hair short. I was going for Moon Flamenco for the club and put lots of flowers on my head and wore a stripy blue ruffley shirt, snakeskin leggings, and leather wedges. September 2012

Wearing my hair down for a fancy wedding in Los Angeles. I'm the one with the big hat on the left. I wish I had a better picture of this outfit, but as you can see, it was very minimal consisting of my minipleat stretch column dress and a very big vintage portrait hat, accessorized with chainmaile earrings and Vivienne Westwood bag. One of my British aunts kept teasing me that I had to wear my hat at a jaunty angle, and not back on my head, because it looked too witchy! May 2012

Eyebrowless and bright pink hair for early spring. I had bright blue hair a few months after this, but I can't seem to find any pictures.... This picture was from Midnight Mess in Tokyo during my trip in March 2012.

More subdued pink last winter. This picture was taken of my boyfriend and I
at a speak-easy themed show at a local loft space. I was going for bawdy turn-of-the-century feminist.
Wearing pants and swearing at stuff. The boy is wearing a bike tube as a bolo tie! February 2012
More winter hair. I miss these glasses!!! I think they broke in my purse :(.
I don't remember what I was doing when this picture was taken.... January 2012
I wish I had more pictures to show you! I'm really bad at taking outfit photos, especially outside of lolita and club looks!! I'll try harder in the future!! This year in my personal style was all about un-naturally colored hair, interesting glasses, and thrifting a lot. I'm excited to see everyone elses posts on the blog carnival.

Oct 25, 2012

Chicago Lolitas' Halloween Tea 2012

This past Saturday, I hosted a tea for my local lolitas at one of my favorite spots, Russian Tea Time. When I first became active with the Chicago area lolitas in 2008, it was a tradition of sorts that the community held seasonal formal teas, usually one in the spring, one around the holidays, and one in autumn. Our first fall Halloween tea was one of my favorite meets, so I decided to continue the tradition and host another edition of ChiGothLoli Halloween Gothic tea.

Everyone together taking obligatory shoe shots!!
I was a little nervous about the turnout, but after everyone arrived, we had a large group of 19 lolitas and friends! The theme was gothic, but some people ventured out in their best bittersweet, oldschool, and classic looks. I really enjoy themed meets because I feel like it encourages people to look their best. Everyone really did well!

Said shoe shot. Mine is the velvet boot with lacey tight at 12:05!
I didn't get many pictures of the tea service or the party indoors because the lighting was poor, and also because I've featured Russian Tea Time's service before. As always, it was very delicious, and with generous helpings! I love RTT because I usually have a lot of left-over sweets that I can bring home and enjoy with my coffee the next morning (yes, I'm a sweets for breakfast kind of girl!).

Russian Tea Time has lots of beautiful dolls that harken back to folkloric Russia.
I've always loved them but never got any good pictures!
Thanks Nina for this snapshot!
After tea, the group of us meandered over to the Art Institute gardens for pictures, and then over to State Street to visit Sephora and Beard Papa's, a Japanese creme-puff shop very popular with the local lolitas.

Like everywhere else right now, Beard Papa's is full of pumpkin items for fall.
I bet a pumpkin creme puff would be really delicious...
Choices of creme puff shells at Beard Papa's. The cookie-top one is my favorite.
All in all it was a very successful meet! In addition to carrying on an annual past-time in our community, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to say goodbye to my local lolitas because I am moving to Los Angeles in a few weeks!!! I'm so excited!!! I will miss Chicago but I'm excited to have lots of new adventures on the west coast. Expect many related posts in the future. This is what I wore to tea.

I wish I had a better shot of the details! My blouse is beaded and has a very beautiful lustre,
but it doesn't really show in the photos :(. ***
OP: Black Peace Now
Blouse: Vintage
Bloomers: Metamorphose Temps de Fille
Tights: Vera Wang
Shoes: Bordello
Accessories: F21, VoodooDolly
Coat: KidsYoYo
Stole: Vintage
Thanks for looking! Do you have any Halloween traditions with your friends or your fashion community?

Oct 14, 2012

Three Lolita Prints I Would Like to See

I'm a little late to the party for this week, but I recently joined a wonderful ring of lolita bloggers for our very own Blog Carnival! A Blog Carnival is a group for weekly blog prompt, and is intended to bring lolita bloggers together and help each other keep our blogs active! While my blog isn't exclusively for lolitas, I do dress in lolita fashion, and participate in the lolita community. This week, our prompt is about prints! I tend to choose dresses for their design rather than the print, but I do have a few things I've been dying to see.....

The Bug Collector: Butterflies, Moths, Beetles, and Bugs

"A moth, butterflies, and bees" by Wenzel Holler c. 1650
From my banner and previous posts, you've probably deducted that I love natural history, and I especially love early 17th century natural history illustration and engravings. I would love to own a lolita dress with a tiled, all-over print of illustrations of various insects, perhaps with labels and arranged in a grid like a scientific preparation. A black print on ivory or white would be beautiful, but colored illustrations against a solid background would be stunning as well. Perhaps with velvet or grosgrain ribbon trim.... I would love to wear a dress like this with a straw hat, doctors bag, and maybe a brass magnifying glass on a watch fob for a Victorian naturalist inspired look.

Surrealist Photography
"Composition" by Maurice Tabard, 1919.
The Met Musuem, New York
Perhaps an unconventional choice for lolita, but I would really love to see a dress with a surrealist photographic motif, maybe in the style of Juliette et Justine or Jane Marple. Surrealist photography usually is black and white, and has a collaged or layered composition. This kind of textural image could really be interesting in a textile, and could lend itself to interesting details, such as draped sleeves or hems, in a lolita dress! Surrealist photography often has sexual imagery, so one would probably need to choose a photograph that was safe for work!

Black Cats
Found on Tumblr
I know Angelic Pretty's recent release Cinema Doll features black cats, and there have been other brand releases featuring black cats in the past, but I really want something spookier!! I am the proud mom of a extra cuddly and really not at all spooky black cat, and I really want to own some related dresses!!! In spite of this, I haven't really been enamoured with any of the black cat prints that brands have released, and am holding out for more. Common Moitie, black cats on gravestones with skulls, please??

Check out everyone else that joined in on this week's topic:

Dark Mori Checklist

Many of you might be familiar with the Mori Girl Checklist, a popular meme that originated in the Japanese Mori Girl Mixi communities. To those not in the know, the Mori Girl Checklist is a sometimes tongue-in-cheek "code" for mori girl fashion and lifestyle. With the advent and evolution of the Dark Mori style, the idea of the Mori Girl Checklist has been appropriated as a code for Dark Mori girls. I find I identify with almost everything on the list!!! Maybe this is why I feel such an affinity towards this style <3 nbsp="nbsp">

Source: Finnish Lolita Designer Rosa Nitida

Dark Mori Style and Lifestyle Checklist 
  1. Wants to look like a witch or a dark fairy from the woods
  2. Likes to wear Dark, dusty colours, but also jewel and earthy tones.
  3. All white outfits can be pretty for a ghostly look.
  4. Vintage clothes are a must
  5. Antique, used or ragged laces and silks
  6. Flowers, Leaves, feathers, or antlers make pretty headpieces.
  7. Natural stones, bones, taxidermy and silver jewelry is best.
  8. Leather accessories (belts, pouches, cuffs, corsets…)
  9. Anything Furry could work
  10. Knitted Items, Handmade is best
  11. Layering is the key,
  12. Medieval, Victorian, Folklore and 1920’s inpirations
  13. Ethnic Clothes
  14. Hats. Big, quirky and always decorated.
  15. Floral patterns and animal prints
  16. Might have some Lolita or Steampunk inspiration
  17. Helena Bonham Carter is a great style icon.
  18. Dramatic silent movie make up, tribal paints or very natural look works fine.
  19. Legwear is fun to experiment with. Wearing stripey socks can add to the traditional witchy look
  20. Can look flirtacious, seductive at times. Corsets are welcome for this look.
  21. Crushed velvet
  22. Prefers Dresses and Skirts, longer the better.
  23. Shawls, ponchos and hoods.
  24. Laced up boots, pointy shoes, victorian heels and clogs.
  25. Braided hair, messy curls, or dreads are good hairstyles.

  1. Likes anything spooky or creepy
  2. Collects oddities
  3. Might be attracted by witchcraft and esoterism
  4. Might tend to have a « natural »lifestyle
  5. Believes in Fairies, and Spirits
  6. Crafty Girl
  7. Has a familiar/pet, and most likely a cat or rats.
  8. Rather solitary girl,kind of an introvert
  9. Might prefer Dark Music scenes, from traditional goth, ambiant to Black Metal.
  10. Likes Tribal Fusion Dancing
  11. Strangeness over Prettiness
  12. Loves books. Old Bookstores are a favourite place.
  13. Somewhat rebellious, strong willed and free-spirited, but still Lady Like
  14. Romantic, Melancholic
  15. Might have little quircks, superstitions
  16. Loves Tea
  17. Folklore, Fairytales, Legends and Myths from the North are favourites, but might like Oriental cultures as well.
  18. Loves antiques.
  19. Thrifting is a favourite activity
  20. Always thinks « warm and cosy »
  21. Might be a bit messy, but always with style
  22. Might drink alcohol on occasions. Mead and spicy wines drunk in a horn, or strong alcoholin a pretty flask.
  23. Collects bottles and fiols
  24. Likes to take walks in the Forest, after the rain, at dusk or event at night.
  25. Preraphaelites, Arthur Rackham, William Bouguereau or Brian Froud are favourite artists.
Originally posted by Strega's Forest over on Tumblr.

Oct 7, 2012

Witch from the Woods: Dark Mori Style

Collage from Tumblr. Photo sources: Strega's ForestFeather & Moss Curiosities, and Necrosarium

Within the last year or so, a buzz has been growing around the idea of a darker version, or sub-style, of the mori-kei style. For those of you not in the know, mori kei, or mori girl, is a street fashion look originating in Japan that embraces the aesthetics of a rural, woodsy lifestyle. Mori kei fashion is heavily layered, and often incorporates heavy knits and lace to evoke a charming, hand-made feeling. While many dark romantic types identify with the solitary, girl-living-in-the-woods ideals of mori-kei, we often associate ourselves with the darker aspects of the woodland fairy-tale: the woods witch, the wandering sage, the Miss Havisham, the village priestess, the Gretel.

Dark mori, sometimes referred to as Strega style (as proposed by Hydrangea Velours, curator of the tumblr blog Strega's Forest), or Black Forest Mori (as proposed by Shady Oaks at her tumblr), is the incarnation of this fashion that revels in the melancholy of the forest. Dark mori uses variations of blacks and greys where traditional mori kei uses whites and cremes. Raw edges and tattered lace are used to give dark mori garments a worn look. Accessories can feature dried flowers, branches, bones, horns, and raw stones, and makeup can vary between completely natural to elaborate and tribal.

Dark mori girls and boys can draw inspiration from nature, from the Northern Rennaissance and Pre-Raphaelite art movements, Gothic literature, bronze-age and pre-Christian civilizations, folklore, fairytales.... Since dark mori is a fairly new idea, there are a limited amount of definitive resources floating around the net. Although this is true, there are quite a few good tumblr blogs with a dark mori theme. Here are a few:

Strega's Forest -
Shady Oaks -
Dark Starts -
A Dark Forest Girl (Lots of good all-white and "old-school" mori kei as well)
The Reliquatory (lots of dolly-kei too) -

I'm really enthused about this style and have been trying to dress within this vein. I hope I can make this blog a good resource for dark mori fashion!

Oct 5, 2012

Curious about Curiosity Cabinets: How to start your own Wunderkammer

Collecting is a hobby that can take many forms, but displaying your oddities in the form of a Curiosity Cabinet is the ultimate way to showcase your collection, and visually communicate your interests and aesthetic. Curiosity cabinets, or Wunderkammen in the original German, have a rich history and have been a popular method of displaying personal collections for centuries.

I adore their collection of crucifixes! 
Note the mingling of oddities with books....
Source: Tumblr
Step One: Acquiring a Cabinet

While not one-hundred percent necessary for a more general oddities collection, a nice touch, and really, the defining touch to your Cabinet of Curiosities is, of course, the cabinet! Finding a suitable display case can be a treasure hunt of its own, but there are plenty of options commercially available if you are willing to spend the money. Thrift stores with large furniture selections usually have hutches or china cabinets available that could be fitted to work, and of course, ebay always has (sometimes pricey) selection of antique apothecary shelves available for purchase. 

A quick google search for "Antique Hutch" turned up this beauty,
but its easy to find similar models at any local thrift shop. 

If you are on a budget, a bookshelf can do the trick. The possibilities are endless, but remember that the display is just as important as the collection itself, so make sure to choose something that really speaks to you! A nice feature to have is a light source. Though not mandatory, it's nice to be able to really put your collection in the spotlight.

Step Two: Beginning Your Collection

Traditional curiosity cabinets were comprised of a combination of natural and man-made artifacts. Collectors would display sea fans and shells next to plater casts of grecian statues and sometimes obvious fakes "proving" the existence of mythical creatures (such as the "Piece of Skin from the Serpent in the Garden of Eden" below). Although for a while these collections were considered educational, their real purpose was to engender awe in their viewers, and capture an appreciation for the world around them. As the Age of Reason dawned, the organization of these collections began to be more motivated by scientific method and were divided into classifications for research. Eventually, wunderkammen evolved into modern natural history and art museums. Art and artifacts were separated from natural specimens, and the gaffs and mythological pieces were removed all together. 

This specimen was a showcase piece in the curiosity collection of Charles F. Gunther, a successful confectioner in Victorian Chicago who was well known for his vast and eccentric collection. In addition to owning many legitamate and important historical artifacts in his collection, he also was the proud owner of pieces like this, "A Piece of Skin from the Serpent in the Garden of Eden". Cataloging textile pieces from Gunther's collection was one of my jobs when I worked at the Chicago History Museum!
Modern curiosity cabinets in many ways harken back to the original wunderkammen of the Northern Renaissance. Most private collections these days are not intended for methodical scientific study, but rather to express one's aesthetic and interests, and to display items which whet one's curiosity and wonder. Modern collections do not have to abide by any traditional guidelines. Mechanical wonders, art, dolls, things found on walks, urban refuse, your cat's meal remains.... the sky is the limit! 

Cased Victorian Butterfly Collection featured on Shop Oddities tumblr. Available on Etsy here.
All this thinking about collecting is very exciting but beginning a collection can be daunting. Like building a wardrobe, a collection should be fairly thematic if you want to clearly communicate an idea or aesthetic. It is a good idea to choose a theme for your collection, or narrow the things you want to collect down to a few specific kinds of items. Once you have a basic collection down, you can build from there. Some ideas for themes could be Natural History (bug collections, bird skins, articulated animal skeletons), medical paraphernalia, funerary items, or religious artifacts. Ideally, these things should have some personal significance, but they can also just be things you think are cool!!
A collection of glass eyes which belong to the last lady glass eye blower in the UK:
From the Royal Berkshire Medical Museum Collection. I would die to have these in my collection!
Since a curiosity cabinet is a central part of your home's decor, its a good idea to discuss your collecting plans with your partner or family if you share your home. My boyfriend and I are both excited to start building our own oddities collection, but we have agreed together that we will not be collecting any human remains, pickled things, or mortuary ephemera, on his request, and nothing associated with black magic/summoning on my request. We have agreed we want to stick with natural history artifacts, medical equipment, and religious artifacts. 

DIY Curiosity Cabinet from the Jewelry Tutorials blog, who run the EtsyMetals blog ring. The linked article talks about what they do to inspire them as jewelers, and maintaining a curiosity cabinet is on the list!
If you are on a budget, or just aren't sure what direction you want to go with your collection, its also perfectly acceptable for your wunderkammer to be made up of little things that have no significance other than that you like them. Your curiosities don't have to be valuable, or rare, or even beautiful to be special to you. Maybe the most important function of a curiosity cabinet is to store and elevate items that have emotional significance to you. To have them somewhere where you can look at them and remember those feelings and feel proud of the object, and not just keep it in a drawer. 

Step Three: Oddities Odds n' Ends

So you're ready to turn your collection into a full blown curiosity cabinet. Here are a few useful links for where to get things you'll need or want, inspiration, research sources, and other like-minds. I only have US locations right now. If you know of any others, feel free to comment and I'll add them to the list!! Happy collecting!!! 

Those nifty glass domes: 

Oddities shops: 
Obscura - New York, New York
Necromance - Los Angeles, California
Wooly Mammoth - Chicago, Illinois
Loved to Death - San Francisco, California
Evolution - New York, New York

Museums and Public Collections:
The Mutter Museum - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
The Museum of Jurassic Technology - Santa Monica, California -
Ripley's Believe it Or Not Museums - your local tourist town

Sep 29, 2012

Outfit Snap: Dreary Night Antique Doll

A few weeks ago, I escorted a friend who recently moved to my city to a local goth club for a fan meetup. I always love to go to the goth club so I eagerly volunteered to go with her, even though I know nothing about the fandom which the meet was about T_T. Here's my outfit!

Headbow: Claire's
Jacket: F21
Overdress: vintage Laura Ashley
Fox stole: from the Cat's Meow Vintage Show
Underskirt: Vintage from Height-Ashburry in San Fran
Wooden rosary: thrifted
Wedge sandals: Target

I was going for a kind of elegant doll look, maybe reminiscent the work of Takato Yamamoto or of the talented duo Kokusyoku Sumire. I really enjoy using vintage items in coordinates that feel like lolita, but are really not lolita at all! Do you like my new hair and glasses? Lots of people thought my hair was a wig!

I'm trying to make an effort to make more outfit posts, but I'm terrible at remembering to get pictures of my outfits!

Thanks for looking <3 p="p">

Sep 4, 2012

Lost Little Dolls: Art Dolls for the Darkly Pursuaded

Like many people interested in lolita, mori, and dolly kei fashion, I'm really interested in dolls! Blythe dolls, Pullips, and ball-jointed dolls are  very popular, but I've always had a soft spot for one-of-a-kind creepy art dolls. They're fun to make, have a spooky kind of aesthetic, and are always unique. Even though these dolls creep some people out, they are definitely of interest to people of a dark-romantic persuasion. Here are some noteworthy doll artists for your perusal:

Shain Erin

Sabelia - Exquisite Monster Doll by Shain Erin

Mummy Doll by Shain Erin

Shain Erin makes macabre sculptures of mummies, monsters, and ghost children, all finished with care and aged to appear as artifacts. In addition to being deliciously creepy, the attention to detail on these dolls is superb. The fabrics and trims chosen for their clothes are hand dyed and distressed, and many feature tiny embroidery and decorative finishings (check out the stitching on the cuffs of that mummy doll above!) Shain Erin's dolls are made of paperclay, and can be viewed here:

Scott Radke

Mermaid by Scott Radke
Tutu #2 by Scott Radke
Detail from Tutu #2 by Scott Radke

Scott Radke has had quite a successful career making his "marionette" sculptures as he refers to them. You may recognize his work from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland or The Birthday Massacre's music video "Blue". He has been published in Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose magazines, and has shown these dolls in countless galleries across the globe. While most people rightfully treat these objects more as fine art or sculpture, they would be perfectly at home on any avid art-doll collector's shelf. I am enamoured by these little guys' lovingly painted faces, that make them feel almost like illustrations rather than three-dimensional characters. Scott Raedke uses a variety of mediums, and sells dolls and prints on his website,

Wooded Woods by Kamila Mlynarczyk
Lydia Turnpike: Visitor in the Night....
by Wooded Woods
Hands by Wooded Woods

Pregnant Pia by Wooded Woods

Wooded Woods is a doll line headed by artist Kamila Mlynarczyk. Her dolls are more character-oriented than any of the artists I've discussed previously, but the way she uses color, pays attention to the detail in their clothing, and really pays attention to the personality of each doll makes her one of my favorite doll artists. I love that so many of these dolls are *almost* pretty, but each is so flawed. I'm not a huge fan of her zombie style sculptures, but I'm in love with the Victorian-inspired cuties pictured above. You can see more of her work and find links to purchase here:

Art dolls are great because there are virtually no limits! This post is mostly about polymer-sculpt dolls of a certain aesthetic, but there are plenty of great artists working with cloth dolls, custom BJDs, fashion dolls, and so forth. Maybe I'll do a post about some of those in the future! 

What do you think? Do these kinds of dolls creep you the heck out, or do you like them? Ever tried your hand at making your own?